“Just close your eyes and have fun.”
O smiles at the room. An even split, men and women; a dozen or so of each. It’s tense.
A month ago we all put our faith in O.
“Join my experiment!” he’d said.
A week later we received a document and two sets of photos. One set were of the women that currently sit around the room adjusting stray hairs. The other was made up of various non-aquatic house pets.
“Choose three of each.”
I chose three of the women then, a kitten, French bulldog, and a dwarf pig.
“Why did we agree to this?” I mumble to M.
M shrugs, “O is our friend,” then adds “but, yeah, awkward,” scanning the room, taking in the discomfort.
I look up at O as he wades through the room encouraging people to close their eyes. I close mine. After a moment soft music begins playing. I wait.
After a bit I feel M stand up. I crack an eye. He is being led away, eyes still closed, behind a curtain at the far end of the room.
I think I fall asleep.
When someone’s clammy hands grasp mine I can feel that M is back beside me, trembling.
The clammy hands pull me to my feet. I am led through the darkness. I come to a stop. The hands let go. My guts flap around a bit. Then, someone taps me directly between the eyes. My whole body goes warm. They say something in Russian.
I recognize O’s voice.
“Open your eyes.” I do.
I am standing in front of a mirror. My eyes have grown; my face has gone all fuzzy. I watch as my body crumples into itself. It doesn’t hurt. It feels like my whole body simply lost its erection. My skin folds, my limbs eat themselves, fur sprouts.
I stare into the eyes of a little orange and white kitten.
“What the shit!” I try to say but, instead, a mew-mew sound emerges. All the fear of the universe becomes absorbed by my cute little body. I piss myself. It is hot. It soaks my little paws. I look to my left. Another kitten sits there watching me, curiously. Then, it pounces on me.
I panic. I curl into a ball. I try to scream.
A booming voice rings out. My body begins to unfold itself. I am standing again in front of the mirror, pants soaked in cat piss. O comes up beside me.
“Close your eyes,” he says softly. I do. Clammy hands lead me back out and sit me down next to M. As soon as the hands let go I open my eyes. I see O leading a woman out from behind the curtain, one of the women I’d chosen from the set.
I want to vomit.
I turn to look at M. He is disheveled, his eyes wide and bleary.
“What the fuck was that?” I whisper.
“Uh?” he says, turning to me. He looks as though he might cry, or scream.
“I said what the fuck was that?”
M closes his eyes and shakes his head.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” he croaks. He sniffs the air. He opens his eyes and frowns at me.
“Why do you smell like piss?”
I look down at my pants. At least they are black.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” I mutter.